Ischia's beaches are famous: long stretches of sand between blue sea and the green hills of the interior. They are also very popular, and in high summer some become crowded masses of sunburnt humanity where strangers lie on paid-for sunbeds two feet from each other. For a bit more privacy, visit in early or late summer, or consider taking a water-taxi (or walking) to more inaccessible coves.
As elsewhere in Italy, beaches are generally divided up into stabilimenti, private businesses who charge an admission price for use of their patch of beach. Some facilities may be included in the basic entrance fee; others will cost extra. Services available generally include deckchairs, sun loungers, towels and changing rooms. There is often a bar or restaurant, meaning you can pass your whole day on the beach, should you wish. However, there are also stretches of spiaggia libera, free beach, which is a more familiar set-up for overseas visitors. Here you can bring your own towels, buckets and spades etc. and make yourself comfortable at no charge. Especially in peak season, though, you may need to walk some way to find
a stretch of spiaggia libera.
There are about 37 km of coastline, and although some of the shore is rocky, you are never very far from a beach. The coastal towns all have local stretches of seafront where you can sunbathe or swim, and hotel staff can generally give good advice on the best places to go. Some hotels have their own beach stabilimento, or have an arrangement with a local establishment where they will send their guests at reduced prices.
Ischia's most renowned beach is the Spiaggia dei Maronti, on the southern shore between Sant'Angelo and Barano. Once, the story goes, it was a favoured landing-spot for pirates who would dig pits in which to bury their loot. As well as good swimming, the 3km-long beach offers the unusual treat of a natural thermal spring at Cava Scura. Open-air pools dug in the rock give visitors the opportunity to bathe in the supposedly-therapeutic waters.
Another popular beach is Spiaggia Citara, south of Forio, where the much-photographed Giardini Poseidon are the beach-front gardens of a thermal spa, complete with pools and sunbeds. Between Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte lie two beaches, Spiaggia Mandra and Spiaggia dei Pescatori. Other favourites include the Spiaggia degli Inglesi ('Beach of the English'), the other side of Ischia Porto.